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In praise of the single mother

Dear Editor,

A woman once told me, ‘After a night of partying, I woke up to see my children sitting at the table filled with roaches, gobbling down the greasy chicken in the bag I brought from Keith’s the night before. I stood and watched them for a minute. Then, that’s when it hit me that I was losing all respect for myself and had to take control of my life before it was to late.’

Funny how things happen on the 21 bus route.

A few days ago, I met a child at the bus stop who told me about how his mom was doing her best to keep him out of the gangs. She worked two jobs to take care of him and his three siblings. I could not rest until I met this remarkable woman, so I camped out at the bus stop for a couple a days trying to catch up with the boy. On the third day, he was there standing by himself in the same spot where we first met. I asked him about his mom, where they lived and how I could meet up with her. Because of her busy schedule, I could only meet with her for a short time. They lived in a government project, in a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment furnished with the necessary essentials. It was very neat and well-kept.

When we met, I was somewhat surprised, because if you listened to her son one would’ve thought he was talking about a battle axe with a fiery temper. She was just the opposite. The boy’s mother was about 5-foot-5 and 110 pounds, with a pleasant demeanor and a cheery smile in her voice. She was not what I expected. She was very respectful, calling me Sir all of the time while we were talking. Her story is not unfamiliar to many single mothers today. She was a housewife who married her high school sweetheart right out of school with just the basic education. She had two children in her first two years of marriage and settled down into what she thought was an ideal life, only to wake up one day and find that her husband had left her for another woman without a penny to live on.

Her dreams were shattered. There she was, a young woman with two children, no formal education and no job. What was she going to do? Well she had two assets: her good looks and nice figure. So she started hanging out in clubs and on the blocks, which led to her having two more children. Eventually her life spiraled out of control and she started drinking and doing drugs, finally hitting rock-bottom.

As she stood there watching her children licking the grease off their fingers from the greasy chicken and fries, while fighting off the insects, she knew she had to do something and do it quickly. That’s when it hit her: church. She had heard so much about God and how much he loved her. That morning being Sunday, she got dressed and went to the church just up the road. The sermon was about God’s love and second chances, and when the pastor made the altar call she was the first out of the pew. At the altar, the Lord spoke to her, and the first thing he told her to do was to forgive her husband. The hate she had for him was what was destroying her. There could be no healing until she forgave him.

She walked out of church a new woman determined to make a better life for her family. She got a job as a maid and another one working as a kitchen cleaner in a hotel; today she also does hair in her spare time. She wants to open her own beauty parlor. In the meantime, she is determined to give her children the best education possible, but foremost is to teach them about God and his love for them and to keep them away from gangs.

In that short space of time, as I listened to the boy’s mother, I saw so many single mothers faced with the same dilemma. I asked her if she had any advice for other mothers in her condition. She frowned and said, “Brother TP, I can tell them a lot of things, but what surpasses anything I could ever say to them is, ‘If at anytime you found yourself faced with my situation, if at anytime you hit rock-bottom and [are] contemplating suicide as I was, run to the first church you can find. God will do the rest’.” I asked her permission to share her story, which she readily agreed to.

Unfortunately many of us take a delight in bashing the single mother. Not understanding or caring about their pain and struggles, we condemn them for being in the position they are. But what gives us the right to judge them? We call ourselves a Christian nation, yet we are quick to vilify anyone who makes a mistake or falls on hard times. They need help, but are afraid to ask because they know that, since they are not from affluent families and by the way we think and look at them, what the answer will be. So they suffer in silence. Some of them eventually do things that they have since regretted, but their children have to eat. There are many examples like this boy’s mother out there who have put their lives and those of their children in the hands of God. They know the virtue of prayers. I know of a single mother who had eight children of her own, and still found time to nurture and train other children in the neighborhood. She was a Christian, a praying woman. Her children are my brothers and sisters. I am one of many of her extended family. All of her children are respectable men and women who are making great contributions to a better Bahamas. She has since gone on to her eternal rest, but the memories of her are forever etched in the annals of my mind, as well as others who knew and loved her.

God bless you Miss Gladys. Thanks for the role you played in my life. Young mothers, remember you are not alone. Jesus loves you, and he promised never to leave you alone .

Success stories of the single mother will never be read, because they do not tell of scandal and corruption; they do not speak about violence and crime or politics. But that’s society for you.

– Anthony Pratt

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